Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Like many college English majors, I have an unpublished novel on my hard drive. Here, we visit Colorado of the eighties and attempt to chop down a Christmas tree:
One of the great pleasures of life is having breakfast in an all night diner at four o'clock in the morning with good friends. The night changes to day. You get to watch truckers and delivery men come in with full loads and empty stomachs. The harsh cold fluorescent light of reality finishes off an evening of rock music, drugs, skinny dipping and unrequited love. It's four a.m. and you're ordering eggs with friends. Waylon Jennings is on the jukebox. The sun will be out soon and with it all of the expectations of the evening. You're drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and being your old grouchy selves.
So it came to pass that I was eating breakfast with Nancy and Gail at Mary and Lou's Cafe. Nancy invited me out to Jamestown to help chop down Christmas trees with them and the youngin's. I said I'd go.
There was some federal land by the old abandoned tungsten mine in Jamestown. Technically it was off limits to all poachers, but the locals treated it as their own private tree farm, and during December, were known to discretely cart off an evergreen or two in the spirit of the season.
Me, Nancy, Gail, and the two kids drove from Denver one cold morning in Gail's truck to carry off Christmas plunder from Jamestown. When we got to Jamestown, we stopped at Nancy's father's house and he gave us some cutting instructions. We were told, for one thing, that if anybody asked us where we came by our trees, we were to say that they came from the old Hill place, and that Daddy had been carting off trees with permission from the Hill family for thirty years. We carried axes instead of the usual power saws, because Nancy said it would be more authentic and we'd keep the noise down.
There we were with axes on a hill full of evergreens. It was the two women, me and Nathaniel. The consensus was that Gabriel was to be left with Grandpa. I chopped down the first tree. Boy, it was a lot of work. I must have hit that damn tree with that dull ax twenty times before it came down. Then Gail and Nancy chopped down their trees. Male chauvinist as I am, I have to admit that they disposed of their tree more swiftly than I did with mine. And theirs was bigger.
Within half an hour of chopping and stumbling over the icy meadow, the tree cutting duty was finished, and we got to the fun part of dragging the two trees down the hill and tying them onto the roof of the truck. This was actually more work than the cutting down of the evergreens had been. Fortunately, Nancy had brought a bottle for walking and so we were all in fine spirits by the time we got back to Dan Woodson's abode.
He was baby-sitting his grandson, and he let us in. We listened to old Jamestown Christmas tree cutting stories and drank beer. I almost cried when he told us about how old Uncle Jake lost his thumb one year cutting down balsam pines. But then he was a professional poacher so he probably deserved what happened.
Nan-u had one more house she wanted to visit. It was getting dark as we drove past Tim Hardin's old house and got to the cabin of Nancy's old school chum. Deloris was living with her affable but perennially out of work husband Fred. They greeted us with beer, tequila, sandwiches, and their two year old nymphomaniac daughter Tiger. While the adults were recanting gruesome Christmas tree chopping stories, Gabriel and Tiger retired to the bedroom to play doctor. A few bhongs into the evening the two youngsters flamboyantly entered the living room in their birthday suits.
The two moms started yelling, "Put your clothes on right now before we whip your butts!" They made so much noise they almost woke up Nathaniel. It was great to watch a recreation of the Genesis scene. It really got me into the spirit of the season.
Soon, it was time to leave, that is if anyone had expectations of getting to work or school or day care on time the next day. So we departed the cold, wintry, mountain town of Jamestown. With the trees precariously tied to the roof of Gail's truck we all headed back to Denver, our jobs, and our urban lives. When we got to town, first we hoisted Nancy and Gail's tree up the stairs of their place and then we hoist my tree DOWN the stairs of my basement condo.
Wow! I had a Christmas tree! Now all I needed was decorations. Then I found the box with the old family stuff that my parents had given me. This, I knew, was the stuff that neither my parents nor my older brother wanted. Then there was the entourage of decorations I had bought at flea markets in Denver the past three years. The tree, needless to say, was premium grade, and genuine.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Most of us are cowardly snow people. We stayed in the house on Saturday and ventured out on Sunday to devote two hours getting our cars ready for Monday. Monday morning I was ready for bear, didn't even need to clean the windshield.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
"So, do you think she hit him with those golf clubs or not?"
"I wonder how much booze she had in her when she started chasing him up the street?"
"So I see Tiger Woods was doing more swinging than on the course!"
And for the rest of the afternoon, you have the pleasant give and take of witty repartee, jokes, opinions, and happy fun filled laughter. Thank you Tiger and may you have a happy new year.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
If he was an obscure senator in Illinois, this book might have become the darling of the academics and been assigned in high schools and colleges nationwide but because he is now our president, he can't be assigned without it looking overly political. It is a good book. Someone who wrote a decent book is now our president. That's really scary. Americans prefer B students who are well liked for their presidents.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
While I was an English major at college, I thought I might be a poet. I'd toss off a poem every week, make humongous amounts of money, and spend the rest of my time drinking beer with my friends. I was disappointed when the professor told the class that poets get virtually no payment for their work unless they are endowed by a major university. As good a deal as being an "ah" counter seems, it could turn out to be another fleeting position where the aesthetic rewards outstrip the monetary. Sort of like being a librarian.
Editor's note: Apologies to Toastmasters. "Ah counters" are volunteer positions.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I went to the local supermercado and I found the weekend manager. After she finished describing her boyfriend's Volvo, I got the chance to tell her that I was writing a blog.
"A blog? she exclaimed. Wow. Diggity dog sleds!" She then proceded to bring a pallet over to my car in the parking lot. It was filled with enough groceries to fill my refrigerator and all of my cabinets. All I had to do is shill the products on my blog.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Sporting a mustache may improve your chances of landing a higher paying job, according to a study commissioned by financial services provider Quicken and the American Mustache Institute which admittedly represents people opting for facial hair.
The study found that mustached Americans earned 8.2 percent more on average than those with beards and 4.3 percent more than the clean shaven.
But the news is not all good. Mustached Americans also tended to spend 11 percent more and save 3 percent less than their collective counterparts, according to the study, titled "Saving and Spending Patterns of Mustached Americans."
"If efficiencies in financial management could be realized in the near-term .. it's highly probable that over the next four to five years, we will see mustached Americans' savings rate grow to surpass their bearded and shaven peers," research consultant Hans Menjou-Bartchen said in a statement.
The study was conducted during the first six months of 2009, examining a random sample of 2,000 mustached American men along with 2,000 bearded and 2,000 clean-shaven peers.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
ICQ is designed for strangers to meet, not just people who know each other. You can search for people by age, sex, keywords in a profile such as "classical music" or "cock fighting". This allows one to presumably find people with common interests. I have talked over the years with people in England, Thailand, China, Canada and even the United States. Recently I talked to someone from Siberia. She claimed to be able to see bears outside her window.
The webcam aspect brings a level of reality to the proceedings. You can see the plant behind the person or the wall that needs painting. Once when using the webcam I saw the daughter whining in the background. A stern command in Mandarin sent the youngster scampering off. Webcamming has made me put a clean shirt on and trousers, while previously I had ICQed in my underwear.
The ability to talk to people from different backgrounds and wildly different environments is one of the fulfilled promises of the Internet. It, like anything else, has its pitfalls. Ladies wanting to show you pictures of them in their girdles occasionally pop up. I'm old enough to remember when ladies wore girdles.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Hence, one of the classic battles is being waged between those old adversaries, tires and chickens. Those of us who have been privileged to drive through the Olde South have seen many a front yard where chickens are hanging out with the old tires that are decorating the front lawn. The chickens peck on the tires for exercise, and even raise their young inside the tires. If the tires and chickens in Arkansas can get along, maybe we can get along with China.
Editor's note: When I wrote papers in college, I was always using hence.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Men! You can cancel your gym membership! Throw out your diet books! Plow under your garden! You can start guzzling beer again!
Pot bellies are in. Having a Ralph Kramden physique is the sign that you are ahead of the times on the cultural scene. Get out the mirror. Today you are hip. Your friends are hip. Even Uncle Charley was hip. Who would have thought such a thing? To be hip today, men need a beer belly. If we had only known that last year. Anybody want to order a pizza? Extra sausage please.
Monday, September 7, 2009
One of the great pleasures in life is taking your parents to your father's army reunions. Men who served in World War 2 like to get together with other veterans and chew the fat and drink alcohol. When men get to a certain age, however, they need to be driven to such places by, ideally, their children. For children asked to take part in such expeditions there are advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are
- It's a cheap trip. Gas, lodgings, food are paid for by dear old dad.
- You get to hear what a character your father was and if you are lucky, told stories your mother didn't hear.
- You get helpful driving instructions and are pinpointed various interesting sites to be viewed from the highway.
- You get to go to places like Jimmy Carter's fireworks and tobacco stands so everybody can go to the bathroom and you can buy souvenirs which you can hoist on your friends as Christmas presents.
- Once you are there, you get to go to a bar with the other kids of the veterans. One year they had it in New Orleans and I got to march in the Halloween parade. I wore my shirt backwards as a make shift costume.
The disadvantages are
- You get helpful driving instructions and are pinpointed various interesting sites to be viewed from the highway.
- You get told to get off at the wrong exit.
- You get to drive for miles in driving rain.
- You listen to a lot of country and western on the radio. No rock and roll allowed in Dad's car.
- You have to find parking places real close to the places you want to go.
I had the added advantage of driving my mother to her nursing school reunion. We all said the pledge of allegiance. I know everybody had to bring a gift. My mother brought an African violet plant.
Still, it's a good way to spend time with aging parents. You do remember those times after they are gone.
Editor's note: I couldn't find a link to it on the Internet but in the early 1990's there was a Jimmy Carter's stand in Georgia. It was not run by the ex president but a guy who's real name was Jimmy Carter. Anyone having pictures of this place can let me know in a comment.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Iain Shedden, Music writer September 02, 2009
Article from: The Australian
BEATLEMANIA is about to erupt once more. September 9 sees the release of the Beatles' back catalogue, including their 12 studio albums, in digitally remastered form.
The releases coincide with the launch, on the same day, of The Beatles Rock Band, the interactive video game in which players get to join the Fab Four on stage and in the studio.
Remastered Beatles get back in new digital form.
Iain Shedden, Music writer September 02, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
People talk about the usual things on elevators. Their children, their grandchildren, their pets. Why their bosses are lousy administrators. Why they work harder than their co-workers. I also hear a lot about retirements, grumbling about the furloughs, and kvetching about the weather.
I have also learned about entirely new things on the elevator. Last week I learned about foster dogs. I never knew there was such a thing. I now know the good things as well as the bad, sigh, about volunteering to take a foster dog.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
There is the problem of how to keep the Obama White House from being dull. The Clintons always had their bickering and his girlfriends. The Bushes had their fun loving daughters to bring levity to their administrations. For Obama, there will be the occasional media event with catchy names.
Editor's note: The title of this blog is stolen from the Slate Political Gabfest.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Yes, it was the great, stupendous, annual BIG BOOM of Jamestown. An annual ritual, with origins dating back to the last century, when miners had lots of dynamite on hand, together with bellies full of whiskey and patriotic fever. For this great thundering event, the locals would assemble one hundred pounds of dynamite and place them over a two hundred pound lead anvil. On top of that was more dynamite, and another lead anvil, about the size of a Bronco. This would all be assembled behind second base in the baseball field. Someone would light the fuse and KABOOOOOOM the top anvil would hurl two hundred feet up into the air. The bottom anvil just went vertically about one hundred feet, towards the stands. Now that was the Fourth of July. "Oh, they're doing that again, Aunt Melray remarked." I was impressed.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Random testing brings accurate results. Like the surprise quizzes in high school that brought C's to everybody, including the Honor Club crowd.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Editor's note: I have a new entry in the balcony tomatoes blog. The things one can do on one's furlough.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I've been surprised how emotional economists can be. "Dammit, you're killing me" I get some mornings when I give them some unpleasant numbers. "Gimme a break, will ya?" I've also gotten sometimes. Today the latest report is bad but not as bad as things have been. I didn't get a kiss on the cheek but I'm waiting for rosier numbers for that. I'll have to remember to shave that day.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Today it's now April 1 of 2009, the day I predict the bottom of the economy can be experienced. I have other predictions for the future. If my predictions are true I will become famous and get a book contract. If my predictions turn out to be false, I can always say it all was an April Fool's Joke.
One year from today, ie. April 1, 2010:
The Dow Jones will be over 9,000.
The Standard and Poors Index will be over 1,000.
NASDAQ will be around 2000 and people will like Microsoft Windows 7.
The unemployment rate will be 6.5.
Obama will be unpopopular as a president. Fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan will be heavy and things will not look well on the warfront. Hillary will have a mini scandal involving finance.
Housing and gasoline will be up 15% for the year.
Ugly Betty will be cancelled, but a movie will be planned.
Governor Steve Lonegan of New Jersey will be unpopular with Jim Gearhardt for betraying the taxpayers of New Jersey. Former Governor Corzine will announce his engagement to Carla Katz.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Till that time.